This paper gives an overview of Asperger Syndrome. I chose to discuss Asperger??™s Syndrome because I feel it is important to raise awareness and educate people about disabilities they may see within other individuals in their community. As an elementary education major, there is a good chance that I will work with students who have Asperger??™s Syndrome in my pre-service teaching or in my future classroom. I wanted to dig a little deeper into the topic to obtain more knowledge about it. First, I will define Asperger Syndrome and explain the characteristics a person with it may display. Second, I will discuss what it is like living with Asperger Syndrome and the challenges an individual may face. That will be followed by the types of interventions and strategies that can be used for people with Asperger Syndrome. Finally, I will summarize what research says about these individuals and the look term outlook.
The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) definition of Autism is a ???developmental disability affecting verbal and nonverbal communication and social interaction, generally evident before age 3 that adversely affects a child??™s educational performance.??? (Hewerd 258). Asperger Syndrome falls under this umbrella because it is an Autistic spectrum disorder. It is often considered a high functioning form of autism. Princeton University defines it as a ???developmental disorder related to autism and characterized by higher than average intellectual ability coupled with impaired social skills and restrictive, repetitive patterns of interest and activities.??? The main characteristic that separates a person with Asperger??™s apart from other types of Autism is that they have difficulty with nonverbal communication in social situations, such as problems with eye contact, facial expressions, body postures, or gestures. They may speak in a monotone and may not respond to or pick up on other peoples comments or emotions. They often have trouble in understanding sarcasm and humor. For example, they may take a figure of speech literally. People with Asperger??™s often do not recognize the need to change the volume of their voice in different settings. Another characteristic that is very commonly associated with Asperger Syndrome becoming over-focused or obsessed on a single object or topic. They want to know and often have learned nearly everything about this topic. Children with Asperger syndrome may tell you many facts about their subject of interest, but they won??™t have a point or conclusion. They mostly talk about their topic, rarely anything else and often do not realize that the other person has lost interest in the topic. A person??™s topic of interest may be narrow and specific or collections of objects.
When one hears the names Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Thomas Jefferson, what comes to mind Geniuses People who have changed history The thought ???this is a list of people who display some symptoms of Aspergers Syndrome??™ probably never crosses minds. However, Dr. Tony Attwood, world-renowned psychologist and expert on Aspergers Syndrome, listed them as examples of people with Aspergers (Bissonnette). Because a vast majority of people with Asperger??™s are very high functioning, you may not even know a person has it. They may just seem a little socially awkward, but it can be very challenging for them. People with Aspergers feel lonely as teenagers and may experience depression as adults, because they are intelligent enough to realize their deficits, yet cannot change their behavior on their own. Living with Asperger??™s may be very challenging at times. It can especially difficult when routines get changed unexpectedly. In the school or workplace this happens very frequently and can cause unwanted difficulties in their mood, attitude, or ability to function. Another challenge is that for the individual with Asperger syndrome, organizing and prioritizing information can be difficult because they possess a weak drive for central coherence and problems with executive function. Central coherence is the ability to assimilate information from various sources and integrating what is heard, seen, and what they one knows about other people??™s motives or desires (Livestrong.com). Because they focus so much on specific details it is often hard for an individual to distinguish relevant from irrelevant facts or to integrate data from multiple information streams.
Many symptoms displayed when a person has Asperger syndrome are behavioral, therefore interventions have to be focused on some of these behavior problems. Behavioral interventions focus on ???reducing negative or unwanted behaviors such as throwing tantrums, becoming angry or aggressive, interrupting others and obsessing over certain things??? (MayoClinic.com). Another type is cognitive-behavioral therapy. The main goal of cognitive-behavioral is for the individual to unlearn their undesirable behaviors and replace them with more positive behaviors. The individual will learn to recognize the behaviors that need to be discontinued and come up with strategies to change behaviors in the moment, until the change becomes permanent. Many symptoms displayed when a person has Asperger syndrome are behavioral, interventions have to be focused on some of these behavior problems. Behavioral interventions focus on ???reducing negative or unwanted behaviors such as throwing tantrums, becoming angry or aggressive, interrupting others and obsessing over certain things??? (MayoClinic.com). Another type is cognitive-behavioral therapy. The main goal of cognitive-behavioral is for the individual to unlearn their undesirable behaviors and replace them with more positive behaviors. The individual will learn to recognize the behaviors that need to be discontinued and come up with strategies to change behaviors in the moment, until the change becomes permanent. Family has a profound impact on an individual??™s life. Therefore, they play a key role in dealing with Asperger??™s. However, it can be very difficult for the family if they are unsure about how to deal with their Autistic family member. Therefore, educating family and caregiver will provide family members with techniques to use that will help them relate to and interact with the Autistic individual. Despite the social challenges associated with Asperger syndrome, a person can be taught social skills and effective communication techniques. According to MayoClinic.com, a person with Aspergers can learn how to read nonverbal communication techniques and properly socialize if their learning occurs in an explicit and rote manner through social skills training.
Research on the entire Autism spectrum is being done with each passing day. As of right now, there is no cure for Asperger syndrome. Because Asperger syndrome is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder it cannot be treated medically nor cured with medication. However, researchers and other medical professionals believe that with early intervention, a child with Asperger syndrome can lead a happy and productive life (Mental-disorder.net).
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